March 15. 2013 9:48PM

Salem pastor is this year's Ganley honoree

Union Leader Correspondent

"Singing State Trooper" retired Lt. Daniel Clark sang an Irish tune for 3-year-old Helena Locsin, granddaughter of this year's Ganley Award winner Rev. David Yasenka. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

Rev. David Yasenka, the longtime pastor of Salem's Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church, was named the 2013 honoree of the Chief John P. Ganley Community Service Award on March 15. COURTESY 

SALEM - A local pastor whose caring nature has touched those well beyond his own congregation was honored Friday afternoon with the presentation of this year's Chief John P. Ganley Community Service Award.

Rev. David F. Yasenka of Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church was the guest of honor yesterday at a special St. Patrick's Day luncheon held at the Boy & Girls Club of Greater Salem.

Named in honor of former Salem Police Chief John P. Ganley, who died in 1989, the award is presented each St. Patrick's Day to a local individual who demonstrates qualities Ganley personified: leadership, compassion, community involvement and inspiration to others.

The afternoon included a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, a performance by the New Hampshire State Police Pipe and Drum Band, and live Irish tunes sung by "Singing State Trooper" retired Sgt. Daniel Clark. A crowd of roughly 350 people included Gov. Maggie Hassan, local legislators, Salem town officials and past Ganley Award recipients.

Greeted with a standing ovation, Hassan lauded Yasenka's good works and the legacy left behind by the award's namesake. She said it seemed fitting to honor Ganley and Yasenka at the Boys & Girls Club.

"It's not always easy to make everyone feel like they belong, but both of these men have done just that," Hassan said. "Chief Ganley personified what makes our state one of the best places to raise a family. And ever since Yasenka started his ministry, he's been a champion for charity and justice. He's always been there to help the community care for the old, the weak and the neglected.

"That is where our true power lies," the governor continued. "It's in how we treat the most vulnerable people amongst us."

Visibly touched by the afternoon's fanfare, Yasenka said he was humbled by his recent honors. "Thank you for raising community service to such a great level in this town," Yasenka told the crowd. "I'd also like to thank Jesus, because that is why I'm here today."

Yasenka, who has served as the pastor of Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church for more than three decades, has partnered with a number of local businesses and organizations over the years, and has been instrumental in implementing such community programs as the Greater Salem Caregivers, the Western Rockingham Coalition of Care, the Isaiah 58 Ministries, A Family Promise and the Success by Six preschool program. He has also served as president and member of the Board of Directors of Salemhaven and Silverthorne Adult Daycare for a total of 10 years, and is a member and past president of the New Hampshire Council of Churches.